tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 17, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
on our broadcast tonight, the failure in american education, what some are calling a clear and present danger. the verdict from chicago tonight. the jury has spoken on blago. is it really gone? finally a reality check on where 90 days worth of oil may have gone in the gulf waters. now hear this, new evidence on what electronics are doing to all of us. especially our kids. and making a difference for america's wounded warriors, by making them the stars. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening, we're going to begin here tonight in the gulf of mexico. specifically with a reality check on just how much of the oil released into the water from that bp deepwater horizon well is still there. as you may know, the government's been reporting that only about 25% of the oil from that still remains. but is that at all accurate? and in plain english, did anybody really think 90 days worth of crude oil was just somehow slowly vanishing? our chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson is in venice, louisiana once again for us. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. you know, at the heart this is a number's game. and all sides on this issue admit no one knows for sure exactly how much oil is left in the gulf of mexico. but tonight there are clues about where some of it has gone. pictures of an increasingly blue
gulf seem to support the obama administration claim two weeks ago. >> the vast majority of the oil has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed and recovered from the well head or dispersed. >> that leaves 70 to 79%. >> reporter: but today, researchers from the university of georgia say their calculations don't support that conclusion. in part because they claim oil doesn't break down that fast. >> the idea that 75% of the oil is gone and is of no further concern to the environment is just absolutely incorrect. >> reporter: the georgia group insists more than half the oil spills from 2.9 to 3.2 million barrels is still in the gulf. far more than the nearly 1.3 million barrels the government estimates. today in a statement, the government defended its oil budget saying it was based on direct measurements whenever possible and the best scientific estimates where direct measurements were not possible.
so where is the oil? researchers from the university of south florida say they found some of it in microscopic droplets underneath the surface and on the floor of the gulf. in far larger quantities than anticipated and in an area they didn't expect. >> we were surprised how far east the oil had gotten, because this was about 40 miles from the pensacola area. >> reporter: even though you can't see it, the unseen oil is still a threat, not directly to the people, but to the basic elements of the food chain. >> these are all identified. >> reporter: bob kibbler found benzene levels up to 1,000 times higher than allowed in the mud of louisiana's four bayou pass. an area that nurtures a variety of living creatures. things such as? >> the small plankton, the small bacteria that are taken up by the oysters, the shrimp and eventually work their way up the food chain. >> reporter: that's what
concerns both independent scientists and the government alike. no matter how we calculate the budget, the true impact won't be known for years to come. brian? >> anne thompson starting us off once again from venice, louisiana. anne, thanks. breaking news from chicago tonight. as you may know, jurors who have been struggling with the fate of their former governor, rod blagojevich, have finally reached a verdict, the decision tonight in the corruption case that accuses him, among other things, of trying to sell a vacant u.s. senate seat. the seat vacated by barack obama. nbc's john yang with us from federal court in chicago tonight. john, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. when they arrested rod blagojevich in december 2008, u.s. attorney general fitzgerald said he was conducting a corruption crime spree that would make abraham lincoln spin
in his grave. out of 24 charges against blagojevich, including racketeering, extortion, bribery, of those 24 charges they could only agree on one. they found him guilty of lying to the fbi. on the other 23 counts, a mistrial. this is clearly a big embarrassment for the prosecution, but it's not over yet for rod blagojevich. the prosecutors say they are ready to go tomorrow if need be to try him again on those other 23 counts. the court will meet, so the judge will decide next week when that new trial will begin. brian? >> hardly the last we'll be seeing of this case. john yang, in chicago for us tonight. john, thanks. we turn now to a big story in education. think of all the american presidents in your lifetime who said their goal is a quality education for every american. well, tonight there's new evidence this country is falling far short, dangerously short in just the number of americans graduating from high school. the one number that jumps off
the page is this one. only 47% of this nation's black males graduated from high school in the '07-'08 year. again, that's just one number. it's a crisis big enough to trigger real fears of two separate american societies. those with an education and those without. our report tonight from our education correspondent rehema ellis. >> reporter: more than half the nation's black male students will not graduate from high school. according to a report by the schott foundation. among the worst performing public school districts with large black male populations, new york city and philadelphia graduated only 28% of black male students in 2008. in broward county, florida, the number was 39%. chicago, 44%. and nashville, tennessee 47%. far below 78%. the nationwide graduation rate for all public school students,
and 98% for private school students. the studies' author argued it's not a matter of race, but resources. >> when you look at the data and look at the number of white males who are in poorly resourced districts like detroit. you will find the graduation rate for white males is only 19%. >> reporter: the study emphasizes black males are less likely to have access to early education. highly effective teachers and resources like tutors and well-stocked libraries. in harlem, jeffrey canada has spent his career raising money to run his public charter school like a private school. >> we can't afford as a nation, to remove a whole group of folks from being taxpayers and put them as expenses the taxpayers have to pay for. >> reporter: at irving prep acade academy, the entire senior class
in this all black male charter school graduated, and all are college bound. >> what we do at the school is we have an extended school day. we have an extended school year. we set high expectations, we give the students an opportunity, and a pathway, a road map to meet those expectations. >> reporter: and nationwide, governors in 40 states agreed it is time to raise the common core standards for children at every grade level to make sure they're on track for graduation and beyond. brian? >> kind of a national embarrassment, ton of reasons why this has happened. if you're watching this at home tonight, you're probably thinking, how could we possibly fix this? >> the obama administration has a plan, a contest they call race to the top, $4 billion they want to award to those states that do certain things. link teacher pay to student performance. increase the number of charter schools. shutdown failing schools, and actually adopt those core standards. they also say, you have to get student discipline under control, and parents have to get involved.
a student report card should never be a surprise to a parent who's paying attention, not just at the end of the year, but at the beginning right now. >> goes all the way to each, individual home. rehema ellis, thank you, as always. this topic will come up again with nbc news when we host the education nation summit right here at rockefeller plaza. it will include a series of reports on this broadcast and others, beginning september 26th. and the goal of this massive gathering is to try to figure out how best to improve education across this country. now, we turn to news from overseas tonight to iraq, specifically. a terrible attack with curious timing. just as u.s. combat troops are getting ready to pull out. it happened in central baghdad at an army recruiting station. suicide bomber blew himself up, killing at least 57 recruits and soldiers. wounding 123 others. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel in baghdad for us. richard, good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, brian. this was one of the worst attacks here in months. the recruiting center was exceptionally crowded on this hot morning. hundreds of people were gathered. some had been waiting for hours, others since last night. hoping to find positions in the armed forces. unemployment is high in this country, there aren't that many jobs available. one of the would-be recruits was actually a suicide bomber, he detonated his vest right in and among the crowd, killing or wounding everyone around him. iraqi officials say al qaeda in iraq was very likely responsible for this attack. and it was times -- while iraqis are already nervous about the withdrawal of american combat troops from this country. iraqis are wondering, will their forces be strong enough to maintain stability after american troops leave? even after the combat mission is over, 50,000 american trainers will remain in iraq, but those trainers won't be out on the
streets. they won't be providing security. mostly they'll have office jobs, they'll be working with iraqi army and police to try to plan missions, not carry them out boot to boot. brian? >> richard engel, covering the end of an era in that war he's covered so much of. we have more now tonight on the remarkable story of survival. we first told you about here last night, the crash of the colombian jetliner with 131 people on board. it broke apart into three big pieces on landing. just one person died as a result. it happened on colombia's san andres island. and our own kerry sanders, has an incredible account from some of the survivors. >> reporter: wreckage from the flight still sits on the airport's only runway tonight. officials say it will remain there until both colombian and u.s. crash investigators finish their preliminary work. the one passenger death was
ruled a heart attack. among the survivors, david and his wife catalina from georgia. these pictures snapped on a cell phone and shared with nbc news. both in the hospital, side by side, fingers pointed to god. >> it's a miracle. there's no way i could explain a plane breaking up into four pieces at that speed. >> reporter: passengers say the flight from bogota was uneventful until moments before landing. at least 19 lightning strikes near the airport. one lightning flash may have momentarily blinded the pilots, causing them to descend too quickly. the jet slammed into the ground 300 feet shy of the runway. in the emergency exit over the wing, david and catalina. they went out the door and tried to get away from the flames and leaking fuel, david's fractured vertebrae stopped him in his tracks. >> i walked about 15 more feet, as fast as i could. and my legs gave out.
my wife said, no, we have to go. i said i can't move my legs. i was trying to crawl. she was trying to drag me. i said, this is as far as i can go, i'm hurting, my legs won't work. it just felt like heavyweights. >> doctors believe his paralysis is temporary. already feeling has returned to his feet. his wife is pregnant. >> i thought i lost my baby. the doctors said, nothing happened to it, you're fine, your baby's fine. it was really a miracle. >> reporter: flight 8250, an incredible story of survival. kerry sanders, nbc news, miami. still ahead as we continue here on a busy tuesday night. with all we have in our ears, is it any wonder they say our hearing is bad? well, this is a little worse than that. new findings tonight about our children's hearing. and later, making a difference for the men and women who fought for this country by making them
the stars of their own show. can i have some ice cream please ? no, it's just for new people. hey ! chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry ? chocolate ! chocolate it is ! yeah but i'm new too. umm... he's new... er... than you. even kids know it's wrong to treat new friends better than old friends. at ally bank we treat all our customers fairly. with no teaser rates... ... and no minimum deposits. it's just the right thing to do. ... so i take one a day men's 50+ advantage. as a manager, my team counts on me to stay focused. it's the only complete multivitamin with ginkgo to support memory and concentration. plus vitamin d to help maintain healthy blood pressure. [ bat cracks ] that's a hit. one a day men's. 100% natural nuts and granola in bite sized clusters. it's a little bit of nature... a little bit better. and nature approves.
granola nut clusters from nature valley. it was a mystery to me. i found out that connected to our muscles are nerves that send messages through the body. my doctor diagnosed it as fibromyalgia, thought to be the result of overactive nerves that cause chronic, widespread pain. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves. i learned lyrica can provide significant relief from fibromyalgia pain. and with less pain, i can do more of what matters to me. [ female announcer ] lyrica is not for everyone. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worsening depression, or unusual changes in mood or behavior or any swelling or affected breathing, or skin, or changes in eyesight, including blurry vision or muscle pain with fever or tired feeling. common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain and swelling of hands, legs and feet. don't drink alcohol while taking lyrica. don't drive or use machinery until you know how lyrica affects you. i found answers about fibromyalgia.
then i found lyrica. ask your doctor about lyrica today. we mentioned this before the break. in health news tonight, there's new research showing specifically the downside we all feared from our portable electronic age. a significant number of teenagers have lost some of their hearing, and that problem has gotten much worse in recent years. our report from our chief science correspondent robert bazell. >> that's okay. we'll be done soon. >> reporter: vanessa ackerman is a recent college graduate who helps her friend with her clothing design business. >> this is all the new stuff from the line. >> reporter: they both go out to hear loud music a lot. one night recently vanessa lost her hearing for three days. >> i never thought i would wake
up one day and literally feel like a 90-year-old woman that can't hear anything. >> reporter: the research out today looked at the most recent government survey, and found that one in five adolescents has some hearing loss. 30% more than a similar survey 15 years before. >> this is a serious public health issue. hearing loss is a real problem. even though teenagers seem to underestimate it. >> reporter: the study doesn't say why hearing loss has increased. >> there's a very short window where you can increase your hearing. >> reporter: what about the devices in your ears, cell phones. >> of course. kids have many more options for devices these days. parents can't monitor them. because they're close to the ears and you can't detect how loud the music is. >> reporter: at full volume, an ipod or mp3 player gives off 105 decibels. that's equivalent to putting your ear next to a lawn mower or attending a rock concert.
with most units, parents can control the maximum volume. >> i'm going to have you come inside, get the ear phones in the ears. >> reporter: this doctor treats many musicians with hearing problems and has strong advice for using devices with ear buds or phones. >> turned all the way up, a person shouldn't listen to it for longer than one song, maybe two songs. >> reporter: experts say it's doubtful teenagers adhere this warning. robert bazell, nbc news, new york. coming up next here, remembering the man who gave us all the shot heard around the world. we where nature meets science.vaza, if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, you may also have very high triglycerides -- too much fat in the blood. it's a serious medical condition. lovaza, along with diet, effectively lowers very high triglycerides in adults but has not been shown
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heard around the world. bobby thompson's home run, won the pennant for the giants against the brooklyn dodgers back in october of '51. bobby thompson died yesterday in savannah, georgia. ralph threw that pitch, and later in life the two toured together and became good friends. interestingly no one ever found that baseball. bobby thompson was born in scotland, raised on staten island, later became a sales executive for a paper company. he was 86 years old. americans love lists of all sorts, there are two of them making news tonight. first of them, the annual u.s. news college rankings. at the very top among the universities, harvard, princeton, yale and columbia. this year's four top spots. smaller liberal arts colleges, williams, swarthmore and middlebury get the top rankings. this next list looks at the mind-set and life experience of each year's incoming freshman college class.
well, among other things, they say, few of this year's freshmen know how to write in cursive. adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones during their lifetimes. american company have always done business in vietnam. russians and americans have always been living together in space. toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps. love that one. having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has been routine. and they've never worried about a russian missile strike on the u.s. we put both lists on our website at nightly.msnbc.com. and when we come back here tonight, our making a difference report. taking the stage to help erase some of the wounds war. we've got to capture.
my job is to hunt it down. i'm fred lemond, and i'm in charge of bp's efforts to remove oil from the wat yo you may have heard that oil is no loerng flowi lo into the gulf, but our spotter planes and helicopters will keep searching. we've still got thousands of vessels ready to clean up any oil we find. we've skimmed over 35 million gallons of oil/w er mixture. we've skimmed over 35 million gallons i grew up on the gulf coast and i love these waters. we'll be here as long as it takes to clean up the gulf. sometimes life can be, well, a little uncomfortable, but when it's hard or hurts to go to the bathroom, there's dulcolax stool softener. dulcolax stool softener doesn't make you go...
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♪ wake up listen here >> hi, there. the veteran's all-star play begins. >> reporter: the curtain goes up wednesday afternoons at this new york city veterans' hospital. >> quiet on the set. >> reporter: with pam directing an episode from "m.a.s.h." stephanie lee as hot lips houlihan. ♪ i can't give you anything but love baby ♪ >> reporter: and the vets, patients with spinal cord injuries starring as radar, hawkeye and the rest. >> when i say go, radar comes on with sir. >> sir! >> oh, for pete's sake, radar. >> sounds almost like the real thing. >> what are you doing here in officer's country. >> just delivering the mail, sir. >> reporter: a former stage actor and lee, who still does tv and filmwork are volunteers. stars of stage and screen would visit va hospitals, trying to lift the spirits of america's
wounded warriors in the 1940s. >> it's getting people to do something that they never thought they were able to. it's 90 minutes of not what is, but what can be. >> reporter: they're not big named performers here on broadway or out in hollywood. over the years the network has dwindled to just a few dozen committed volunteers. making the vets stars is what makes these performances unique. backstage from the cast, rave reviews. >> it helps you look inside yourself to find what challenge you have to bring out. >> come in. >> major houlihan. >> state your business, corporal. >> you have this package. >> it's team work. it can't work without team. >> in a sense, we're still soldiering. >> reporter: and building confidence and self-esteem. an artistic approach to rehabilitation and recovery. >> anything 245 makes someone feel better about themselves is important.
>> reporter: it's mostly about turning a hospital ward into a stage, and working to accomplish more than just putting on a pretty good show. >> good-bye, see you next week. >> ron allen, nbc news, new york. >> fantastic, that's our broadcast for this tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. they are hard to spot and they can snatch your identity in seconds. tonight, we're getting an idea of just how common those debit card scandals really are. >> i'm tom sinkovitz. debit cards have become